From the History of the Ballet
A television ballet film, with its long close-ups of the dancers, the acting episodes minus dance constructed according to the principles of dramatic theatre and the montage of alternative scenes, appears to be "untranslatable" into the medium of theatre. But it was on the basis of his television ballet film that Vasiliev created the original two-act ballet, Anyuta, which had its premiere in 1986, first in Italy, at Teatro di San Carlo di Napoli, and, later in the same year, at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre. And the creation was a great success.
The part of Anyuta was created especially for Yekaterina Maximova. In this, her second encounter with the role, her first being that in the television film, Maximova added many new traits to her characterization of the heroine, enlarging the image overall, while at the same time providing a more subtle delineation of the part. As is always the case with her interpretations, Yekaterina Maximova went beyond the contours of a specific image, creating an in-depth and multi-dimensional portrait. In Maximova’s Anyuta, one could perceive Anya from Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, Nerina from Talents and Admirers by Ostrovsky and Ibsen’s Nora. Without the slightest hint of overstatement, Maximova created a generalised image, imparting a truly Chekhovian intonation to her dancing of Anyuta. In this role she created an image of Beauty that was poignantly captivating and very fragile. As in the television version of the ballet, the part of Pyotr Leontevich was danced by Vladimir Vasiliev. The dancer’s outstanding acting ability was revealed here from a new angle, showing rare psychological insight and a disarming truth in his character’s behavior. Vasiliev’s Pyotr Leontievich was both touching, ridiculous and strikingly authentic. A key theme in Russian literature, that of the "small man", was given an evocative portrayal in his creation of this role.
(text from the handbook, abridged)
The author, Vladimir Vasiliev, tells about his ballet:
The melodies and rhythm of a literary work, which without hearing we sense fairly distinctly in the case of great writers, can only be conveyed in ballet if the visual harmonizes with the aural: music, noises, silent interludes, etc…
I say this since I have never been able to imagine a choreographic form for the expression of human thought without one or other of the above components, and when I heard the music of Valery Gavrilin, the composer chosen by producer Alexander Belinsky for the television ballet film Anyuta, it acted as a spur to my imagination. And I am still surprised at the perfect match in the skills of these two artists - the artist of the word and the artist of music.
We had need of a third artist - an artist, this time, in the literal sense of the term. This was to be designer Bella Manevich.
In our production of Anyuta, based on the well-known story, Anna on the Neck by Anton Chekhov we - composer, designer, choreographer-producer and conductor - sought for clarity and simplicity. The means we have chosen are by no means innovatory, indeed we reverted to the fine old forms of narrative classical ballet.